Obama: U.S. troops in Afghanistan forced to arm themselves with stolen Taliban weapons; Update: Blackfive comments; Update: More comments; Update: Pure nonsense?

Ace is skeptical, milblogger Charlie Foxtrot is skeptical, I’m skeptical but resolutely agnostic, partly due to my ignorance of all things military and partly because I’ve heard enough complaints about underequipped troops in Iraq not to scoff at claims like this. Even so — scavenging for weapons from jihadi cavemen? He says a captain told him this personally so it’s conveniently impossible to check, but if it’s true it surely can’t be the only time it’s happened so word must have gotten around. Any milbloggers willing and able to confirm or deny? Are our guys actually duct-taping Kalashnikovs together as a matter of routine practice, or is this probably a case of a unit being caught underarmed in battle somehow and making do with whatever they could find on the fly?

Update: Matt Burden at Blackfive e-mails to say:

Sounds out of touch and likely a guy from IVAW or VoteVets told him that. HOWEVER, SF will carry AK’s because it’s easier to scrounge ammo and it’s a better weapon. One of our authors, Deebow, was on the Paki border, fought the Taliban daily, and had to scrounge mortars from a nearby SF unit. So, it’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely.

And Army Captains don’t command platoons (some Marines do, but not Soldiers)…

Update: Blackfive e-mails again to say this comment at Flopping Aces is “dead on.”

Update: Stuart Koehl at the Standard says it’s boatloads of crap:

Well, captains command companies, not rifle platoons. A rifle platoon is normally commanded by a 2nd lieutenant, sometimes (if short handed) by a senior sergeant. So for starters, Obama betrays a woeful ignorance of military organization and the chain of command. Then he remarks that the platoon was under-strength because 15 of its men had been “sent to Iraq.” Sorry, the Army doesn’t work that way. Platoons are organic units, consisting of three rifle squads, a heavy weapons squad, and a headquarters section. You can’t break it up. It is the smallest building block in the infantry that can conduct fire-and-movement tactics…

The idea that our guys were scrounging weapons and ammo because they were short is ludicrous. How much ammo you carry is done on a “per man” basis in the infantry–each solder carries a “basic load,” which is backed up by reserve supplies at company, battalion, and above. It is possible to run out of ammunition, temporarily, in the midst of an intense firefight…

To the best of my knowledge, no U.S. forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq ever ran out of ammunition for more than a few hours at most. When you consider that we were operating in Afghanistan at the tenuous end of a 8,000 mile supply line, that’s pretty impressive.